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Judge Overturns Jury’s Decision in Case against Former Goldman Sachs Programmer
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Goldman Sachs

Summary: A jury found Sergey Aleynikov guilty of a seldom used 1967 law of “unlawful use of secret scientific material”.

The former Goldman Sachs Group Inc programmer, dual citizen Sergey Aleynikov, had his second criminal conviction dismissed. Almost four years ago, Aleynikov won his federal case, showing that it is hard to prove copyright crimes. He was charged with using some of the high frequency trading code from the investment bank. Aleynikov copied the code from the servers of Goldman Sachs before he left for a position with a startup company in 2009.


Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Daniel Conviser admitted that Aleynikov acted wrongly but there was lack of proof by prosecutors that he committed the obscure crime. Prosecutors needed to prove that he intended to take most of the value from the code. The 1967 law that District Attorney Cyrus Vance used predates modern technology. Vance’s team intends to file an appeal, stating that they believe he committed a crime and so did the jury that first convicted him.

DA Cyrus Vance Jr

Cyrus Vance

In 2009, Aleynikov was first charged by federal officials under the U.S. corporate espionage law. He was convicted and served nearly a year before winning his appeal. Shortly after he was arrested by New York state officials and charged under unlawful use of secret scientific material and unlawful duplication of computer-related material. He was once again convicted after two weeks of trial and a week of deliberation.

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Aleynikov was hired to write high-frequency trading code, which allows technology to trade securities faster than humans. Some argue that this gives an unfair advantage to the most elite trading firms. Aleynikov’s attorney, Kevin Marino, called the cases against his client as “abuses of prosecutorial power” where they were doing “the bidding of Goldman Sachs”.

There is a still a civil lawsuit that Aleynikov filed against Goldman Sachs for his legal fees, around $7 million at this time. Aleynikov has also filed a lawsuit against two FBI agents that investigated him, citing his Constitutional rights were violated.




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